Showing posts with label Romanesque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romanesque. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Conference on Early Medieval Illustrated Texts in Budapest

Apollonius Pictus manuscript: National Széchényi Library

There will be an international conference dedicated to early modern illustrated texts next week at the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. The symposium, organized jointly by the Library and Pázmány Péter Catholic University, is titled: Facing and Forming the Tradition. Illustrated Texts on the Way from Late Antiquity until the Romanesque Times.

The conference represents a new step in the research initiated by the publication of a study-volume and facsimile of the Apollonius Pictus manuscript held at the Széchényi Library. A number of prestigious international scholars, who have already dealt with the manuscript, will be present at the conference. The event is organized by Anna Boreczky and Béla Zsolt Szakács, and will be held on 18th – 20th March, 2014. The programme of the conference can be seen and downloaded from below (thanks for Gábor Endrődi for uploading it):



You can also read the conference abstracts on Scribd. I am really looking forward to this event! More information is available on the website of the library.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In memoriam Melinda Tóth

Art historian Melinda Tóth passed away in January 2013, at the age of 74. Melinda Tóth spent a lifetime researching Hungarian Romanesque art and was one of the leading scholars of the field. She worked until her retirement at the Art History Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her research concentrated on two fields: Romanesque sculpture and Romanesque wall-painting, in the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary. She was the author of the most recent monograph on wall-painting in Hungary in the Árpád-period (1974, a revision in the form of an article was published in 1995). In the field of Romaneque sculpture, she concentrated mainly on the study of Pécs cathedral. It was largely due to her efforts that the magnificient stone carvings from the medieval cathedral found a permament home in the new cathedral museum, which opened in 2004. Unfortunately, the catalogue of the carvings and the accompanying study on the cathedral sculptures was not finished until the death of Melinda Tóth. However, she published numerous studies on the subject in various journals and exhibition catalogues. I could not find a bibliography of her works online, but a query in Kubikat gives good results.

I had a chance to work together with Melinda Tóth at the mid-1990s, when she worked on the survey and cataloguing of the Pécs sculptures. This material was at the time kept at an abandoned movie building in a village in the hills above Pécs. The situation there was so appaling that even the World Monument Fund was alerted. Restoration of the pieces then began with their support. However, it took another ten years for the new museum to be built according to the plans of Zoltán Bachman.

Stone carvings from Pécs cathedral in storage, 1990s


Detail from the story of Samson; 12th c. relief from Pécs cathedral

My Hungarian-speaking readers can read a new study on Pécs cathedral written by Gergely Buzás, and made available online in memory of Melinda Tóth. I also wrote about Pécs cathedral in a previous post.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

'Apollonius pictus' facsimile published by National Széchényi Library

The National Széchényi Library just announced that an exclusive facsimile edition of the so-called Apollonius manuscript has been released, accompanied by a collection of studies by international authors.

The oldest medieval manuscript of the National Széchényi Library is a fragment, which has recently been identified (COD. Lat. 4). It contains a late-antique "adventure novel" of the story of King Apollonius of Tyre. The novel enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages. The manuscript contains not just the text of the novel, but 38 uncolored pen drawings, making it the oldest illustrated copy of the story. Despite the importance of the manuscript, it has been almost completely unknown.

The parchment manuscript was written around the year 1000, in the Benedictine monastery of Werden an der Ruhr, situated in the archdiocese of Cologne. The manuscript remained there during the Middle Ages, but then entered a collection in Cologne. By the 18th century it was held at the Evangelical Convention in Sopron, from where in 1814 it entered the National Library.

The manuscript was identified and first analysed by two researchers, Anna Boreczky and András Németh, and by 2010, a number of foreign researchers - most notably Xavier Barral i Altet - were involved in first phases of research, the results of which were presented to the public on December 8, 2010. The present facsimile edition is the result of a international collaboration, and is accompanied by multi-language commentary. The commentary volume starts with an introduction by Ernő Marosi, and was written by Xavier Barral i Altet, Anna Boreczky, Herbert L. Kessler, András Németh, Andreas Nievergelt and Beatrice Radden Keefe. In addition to the basic data and a bilingual (English and Hungarian) description of the manuscript, a critical edition of the text is also included. 

Data of the volume: Apollonius pictus. Egy illusztrált, késő antik regény 1000 körül. / An illustrated, late antique romance around 1000. Ed. Anna Boreczky and András Németh. Budapest, Széchényi National Library, 2011.

The above text is based on the information released by the National Széchényi Library. A review will follow, once I get hold of the publication. Below is one page of the fragmentary manuscript.


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Library of Medieval and Renaissance art in Transylvania

Rather than being a proper post, this is more like a collection of links - links to full-length books on medieval and Renaissance art in Transylvania. New databases, especially the Transylvanian Hungarian database maintained by transindex.ro and the newly opened Transylvanian Digital Database of the Transylvanian Museum Society, have made a number of old and new publications available, which - together with other resources - provide a good overview of art historical research in Transylvania. As most of these publications are in Hungarian, the following links will be mainly of use to my Hungarian readers - but others may find something useful as well (as some publications are in English or German). The focus of these publications is architecture, but a few other things are also available online. I'd be glad to add more resources to these - let me know if you've spotted something relevant!


I. Historical overview

History of Transylvania, ed. by László Makkai and András Mócsy, General Editor: Béla Köpeczi
Volume I. - From the Beginnings to 1606. English edition from 2001.

István Lázár: Transylvania - A Short History. 1997


II. Period of Hungarian Conquest

Gyula László: A honfoglaló magyarok művészete Erdélyben. Kolozsvár, 1943.
Art of the Hungarians at the Conquest period in Transylvania


III. Romanesque architecture

Géza Entz: Erdély építészete a 11-13. században. Kolozsvár, 1994.
Monograph and database on architecture in Transylvania in the 11-13th centuries.

Géza Entz: A gyulafehérvári székesegyház. Budapest, 1958
Monograph on the cathedral of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia).
Monograph on archaeological research at Gyulafehérvár.



IV. Gothic architecture
Géza Entz: Erdély építészete a 14–16. században. Kolozsvár, 1996.
Monograph and database on architecture in Transylvania in the 14-16th centuries.

Database of medieval churches in Transylvania.

Victor Roth: Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Siebenbürgens, 1914

Edit Grandpierre: A kolozsvári Szent Mihály templom története és építészete. Kolozsvár, 1936.
Study on St. Michael's church in Kolozsvár (Cluj).

Géza Entz: Dési református templom (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1942.
The church of Dés (Dej).

Géza Entz: Szolnok-Doboka középkori műemlékei (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1943.
Medieval monuments in Szolnok-Doboka county.

Géza Entz: A középkori székely művészet kérdései (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1943.
Study on medieval art in the Szekler territories. 

József K. Sebestyén: A középkori nyugati műveltség legkeletibb határai (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1929.
Study on medieval art in the Szekler territories. 

József Köpeczi Sebestyén: A brassai fekete templom Mátyás-kori címerei. Kolozsvár, 1927.
Coat of arms at the Black Church of Brassó (Brasov).

László Dávid: A középkori Udvarhelyszék művészeti emlékei. Bukarest, 1981.
Monograph on medieval monuments of Udvarhely county.

András Sófalvi: Székelyföld középkori várai. In: Castrum 3, 2006.
Study on medieval castles in the Szekler territories.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Exterior restoration of the Abbey Church of Lébény

Scaffolding at Lébény 
On my way to Vienna today (where my main goal was to see the exhibition on the medieval plans of the Stephansdom), I stopped at the Romanesque Abbey church of Lébény. Some alarming news emerged about the condition of the building in recent years, as photos on this Hungarian website also attest (click for 'more pictures'). Well, by now, work is well under way on the exterior restoration of the building, and almost the entire edifice is covered by a scaffolding. Heavy rain and wind prevented me to explore the building more closely, and there is also very little information available online on the ongoing restoration. Main tasks include a consolidation of the facades and the renovation of the roof of the edifice. They are also restoring the old parish building, with the intention of creating a new museum there. Work will go on throughout the summer.

Lébény, south portal 

The Benedictine Abbey of Lébény was officially founded in 1208, and it is believed that the church was  completed within a short time. Benedictine life went on with varied intensity during the Middle Ages, until the church was burned by Turkish troops in 1529, as they were marching towards the siege of Vienna. The vault of the nave was not even repaired until the Jesuits took over the church in 1631. Those knowing the history of the region will not be surprised to read that the Turkish army burned the church again in 1683, en route to another failed siege of Vienna. The building was again fixed up by the Jesuits, and finally underwent major renovation during the 1870s. 

The church of Lébény before 1872

Despite all these events, the church of Lébény can be regarded as one of the most intact Romanesque churches of Hungary. The fact that the church is still standing after 800 years is also due to those Italian stonemasons, who were sent there to dismantle the church at the time when the Ottoman Turks were advancing towards Győr. The stones of the monastery would have been needed to to repair the fortifications of Győr - but the masons did not carry out the job, saying the Lébény was the most beautiful church they have ever seen.

You can judge for yourself by looking at photographs at the following links:

Hungarian summary of the church's history from the catalogue of the Pannonhalma exhibition on Benedictines in medieval Hungary (click on "Fotó" at the bottom of the page)

Finally, here are some details of the stone carvings of the western portal seen from the lower levels of the scaffolding.




Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Route of Medieval Churches in Szatmár county

Csengersima,  parish church 
A major research project, aimed at surveying and documenting the churches of medieval Szatmár country, was completed last week, and its results are now largely available on the web. As the territory of medieval Szatmár country is today divided between Romania and Hungary, the research project was a joint Hungarian-Romanian one, funded by the EU. The project documented a large number of medieval churches, including some only known from excavations. The area preserved some important medieval buildings, such as the Romanesque basilica of Ákos (Acâş), but most surviving buildings are small medieval parish churches.

The project consists of the following main elements: Mapping out a thematic route of medieval churches in the Hungarian-Romanian border area (in historic Szatmár county), which is the first common thematic route of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg and Satu Mare counties. This route is supported by very useful and informative material: maps, brochures and on-site information. The route includes 30 medieval churches - 20 of them located in the Hungarian county of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, while another 10 in the Romanian country of Satu Mare. 


A brand new website was also developed, which contains all the necessary information about the route and the churches. This website is available in Hungarian, Romanian and English versions. English readers should maybe start on this page. The website - even though the English-language texts are only summaries of the Hungarian versions - provides ample information in English on the medieval buildings of the region, and is thus highly recommended.
Csenger, parish church 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Medieval stone carvings stolen from the Hungarian National Gallery

As it was revealead on Tuesday, two highly important Romanesque stone carvings had been stolen from the Hungarian National Gallery some time in early February. Both carvings were on view in the medieval lapidary of the Gallery, located on the ground floor of the building. There is no explanation as to how or when the theft took place.

The missing stones are the following:


A cornice fragment stemming from the church of Ják, dating from around 1230. The carving, decorated with the figure of a dragon (which originally joined another dragon), comes from the west portal of the abbey church of Ják, and was most recently published in the catalogue of the collection, written by Sándor Tóth (see my earlier post on this).

Hungarian National Gallery, Inv. no. 55.1037, sandstone, 24 x 26 x 15,5 cm







Left side fragment of a relief slab from the abbey church of Somogyvár, dating from around 1150. The stone carving belongs to the Rippl Rónai Museum of Kaposvár, it was on long-term loan in the National Gallery. The carving was published in the Pannonia Regia exhibition catalogue of the National Gallery in 1994.

Kaposvár, Rippl Rónai Museum, Inv. no. MCXC, white marble, 32 x 21 x 9 cm




 





It seems clear that objects such as these cannot be sold on the open market. It is hoped that the carvings will be recovered soon. The images here are from the official Hungarian database of stolen artwork, maintaned by the National Office of Cultural Heritage.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Salerno Ivories


I posted an image from the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts (Budapest) on Flickr today - a nice and small ivory panel showing the Creation of birds and fish.  I detected from responses that there is some interest in the piece - hence this brief post on the Salerno ivories. Together with its companion piece at the Metropolitan Museum, the plaque comes from the cathedral of Salerno and dates from about 1080-1084.  About fifty such plaques survive, all of which once decorated a large piece of church furnishing, such as an altar or reliquary. The panels depict biblical scenes from the Old and New Testament.

The plaque from Budapest traveled back to Salerno for an exhibition in 2007-2008. Titled "The Enigma of the Medieval Ivories from Salerno", the exhibition aimed to gather as many of these original pieces as possible (most of course are preserved to this day at the Museo Diocesano at Salerno). You can learn a lot more about the ivories by visiting the website of the exhibition. Photos of the individual ivory plaques are also available on the website of photographer Roberto Bigano. A two-day workshop at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, held in 2009, launched an ongoing research project dedicated to these ivories. So, expect to hear more about them in the near future!


(If, on the other hand, you would like to know more about the Museum of Applied Arts, you can follow the new Twitter account of the museum).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Catalogue of Romanesque Stone Carvings

Red marble head of a king
from Kalocsa cathedral
Hungarian National Gallery 

The Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest has one of the most significant collections of medieval stone carvings in Hungary. The collection includes the highest quality stone carvings from cathedrals such as Veszprém, Kalocsa and Pécs, as well as fragments from  the abbey churches of Dömös or Pilis and many other places. The material is on display on the ground floor of the National Gallery, in the former royal palace of Buda. 

As the first volume of the gallery's collection catalogues, the catalogue of Romanesque stone carvings has been published late last year. The catalogue was written by Sándor Tóth, university professor at ELTE Budapest, and mentor of generations of medievalists (including the author of this blog). During the last years of his life, Sándor Tóth had a part-time job at the Old Hungarian Collection of the National Gallery, the main purpose of which was the completion of this catalogue. Tóth Sándor sadly passed away in 2007, but by that time the manuscript of this book was largely completed. The manuscript was prepared for edition by Árpád Mikó, head of the collection. 




Relief fragment from Kalocsa
Hungarian National Gallery 
The book contains a long introductory study, which essentially gives an overview of Hungarian Romanesque sculpture of the 11-12th centuries. This is followed by 46 catalogue entries, and the publication of some relevant documents about the collection. In addition to hundreds of black and white photos, the best pieces are also illustrated in color. Even though the book is only available in Hungarian, it is an invaluable resource for anyone working on Central-European Romanesque art, and is thus highly recommended. One can only hope that more medieval volumes cataloguing the Gallery's collections will appear in the near future. 




Tóth Sándor: Román kori kőfaragványok a Magyar Nemzeti Galéria gyűjteményében. A Magyar Nemzeti Galéria szakkatalógusai I.1. Edited by Árpád Mikó. Budapest, 2010. Pb., 200 pages.

To learn more about Sándor Tóth, read In Memoriam Tóth Sándor (1940-2007), by Ernő Marosi here (Hungarian-language pdf from Ars Hungarica 2007/1).

To browse highlights from the collection of the Hungarian National Gallery, click here.







Sunday, January 09, 2011

Conference about Pécs cathedral

The medieval building of Pécs cathedral was completed during the 12th century. The building, although rebuilt several times, essentially survived until the late 19th century, when it was drastically remodeled ('restored') in Neo-Romanesque style. Directed by the architect Friedrich von Schmidt, this construction took place between 1882-1891. The remodeling brought to light much of the original Romanesque sculptural decoration of the cathedral, the remains of which were all removed from the building, and placed in a lapidarium. The carvings have been moved from one place to another during the last 100 years, until they finally found a home in the newly constructed Cathedral Museum, which opened in 2004. This museum contains the richest collection of Romanesque sculpture in Central Europe - and these sculptures are of extremely high quality. The material includes the narrative cycles from the walls of two stairways leading down to the crypt, fragments of the altar of the Holy Cross and the western portal of the cathedral, among many other carvings. Unfortunately, the beautiful Gothic carvings found among the ruins of chapels north of the cathedral are not on view (for more info, see the website of the Sigismundus-exhibition).


Romanesque narrative reliefs from Pécs cathedral
Pécs, Cathedral Museum
No modern catalogue of the material is available - in fact, there is simply no current publication available on this material in any language. There isn't even a small guidebook to the museum, where actually not even all the labels have been properly written. Pécs is a world heritage site (because of the Early Christian necropolis of the town, located in the area around the cathedral) and was the European capital of culture during 2010. Still, nothing happened around the cathedral museum. The Cathedral Museum has no real website, and there is barely any information available on the sculptures online. (This website has some photos and information in Hungarian. This website, made for university students, also contains some photographs and a useful bibliography).


Angel
Pécs, Cathedral Museum

On January 14, 2011, a public workshop will be dedicated to new research on Pécs cathedral, organized by the University of Pécs. At this occasion, the work of a research group established last year and coordinated by Endre Raffay will be presented. You can read the program here (in Hungarian).

Results of the research of an older generation of scholars - notably Melinda Tóth - remain largely unpublished. Maybe a younger generation of scholars is needed to publish much-needed information and evaluation of Hungary's most important Romanesque monument.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Romanesque stone carvings from the abbey church of Ercsi

The Benedictine monastery of Ercsi was located about 40 kilometers south of Buda (present—day Budapest), on an island of the Danube next to the much larger Csepel Island. The monastery was founded by Palatine Thomas (1185-1186), who was also buried there. The monastery ceased to exist during the Ottoman conquest of central Hungary and stones of the monastery church were used as building material for the church of Szigetújfalu during the 18th century. During the past summer, the exterior of the Szigetújfalu was restored, giving a chance to examine the Romanesque carvings used as building material there, and also providing a chance to remove some of these stones. The first report on this was written by Lilla Deklava Farbaky and Balázs Bodó, and was published in the December 2010 issue of the journal Örökség (Heritage), published by the National Office of Cultural Heritage. The issue can be read online (a least by those with some knowledge of Hungarian) – for the benefit of my other readers, I am providing an abstract of the text below.

“Topographical literature has noted before that the church of Szigetújfalu was built in 1770 using stones from the abandoned monastery of Ercsi. Géza Entz published this first in an article in 1965. During the Spring and Summer of 2010, while plaster was removed from the exterior of the church, a chance came to finally examine these stones.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Presentation of new book by Vladimir Goss

On Friday (October 22, 2010), an art history workshop - or a discussion and debate - will be held at Collegium Budapest. The topic will be the new book by Vladimir Goss, titled: Four Centuries of European Art, 800-1200 - A View from Southeast (Četiri stoljeća europske umjetnosti: 800-1200. Pogled s jugoistoka) (Zagreb, Golden Marketing, 2010).

The program is the following:

Xavier Barral i Altet – Presentation of the book

Ernő Marosi and Béla Zsolt Szakács – Critical comments

Vladimir Goss – Responses


Vladimir Goss is a Professor of Art History at the University of Rijeka, he has taught several years in the US (Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan-Ann Arbor, North Carolina - Chapel Hill), among other works, he is author of Early Croatian Architecture (London: Duckworth, 1987) and Pre-Romanesque Architecture in Croatia (Zagreb: Art Studio Azinović, 2006). He was President of the Governing Board of the Institute of Art History, Zagreb (2005 -2007).

Xavier Barral i Altet, Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Rennes, is currently a Fellow at Collegium Budapest; Ernő Marosi, senior researcher, Institute for Art History at the HAS, Professor Emeritus at the Eötvös Loránd University, is a former Fellow at Collegium Budapest; Béla Zsolt Szakács, Associate Professor of Art History at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University and the Dept. of Medieval Studies at the Central European University, is also a former Fellow at Collegium Budapest.

Vladimir Goss is also the main coordinator of the website ROMANIKA.NET. The website is dedicated to the research project The Romanesque between the Sava and the Drava Rivers and European Culture, and contains a wealth of information on the subject.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

The medieval parish church of Pest (part I.)


The Inner City parish church is perhaps the most frequently-seen, yet most overlooked major medieval building in Budapest. Standing in the middle of the city, right next to Elizabeth bridge, modern-day citizens of Budapest zoom by it every day. The church, however, preserves great medieval artworks and still holds many surprises. On the occasion of the discovery of a great 14th century fresco inside the church, I am writing a two-part post on the history of the edifice.

Modern-day Budapest was created in 1873, when the cities of Buda, Pest and Óbuda were united. The center of Buda, the settlement on castle hill was founded after the Mongol invasion (Óbuda, or Old-Buda was somewhat north, at the area of the Roman town of Aquincum). Pest, on the other side of the Danube, was older. For most of the Middle Ages, Buda - the site of the royal castle - played a more important role, but Pest developed into an important town as well. In the center of the town, at the spot where the Danube was narrowest and at the site of a Roman fort, the parish church of the town was built.

Romanesque carved stones built into the
foundations of the pier of the triumphal arch
Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the first stone church was built around 1200. It was a Romanesque basilica, of which some parts survived inside the south tower of the present structure, and in the crypt of the present building.

This church was badly damaged in 1241, but it is unclear to what extent it had to be rebuilt. We know that during the second half of the 14th century, the chancel of the church was greatly expanded and fully rebuilt into a hall-church with an ambulatory. Further expansion was carried out in the late 15th century, when chapels were added to both sides of the nave, and new portals were opened into the side aisles. An imposing south tower was also built at this time. Side chapels were also added to both sides of the western end of the chancel area.

Only the chancel survived the Turkish wars, while the nave had to be entirely rebuilt in the early 18th century. Instead of the three-aisled medieval structure, the Baroque nave is a spacious hall, but the row of chapels on either side have been preserved.


Map from 1785, with the parish church and city hall in the center
For centuries, this church stood at the center of old Pest, adjacent to City Hall. A series of small shops were attached to the body of the church. This traditional center of Pest survived all the way to the end of the 19th century, and is thus known for a series of photographs (see the one by György Klösz on top of this page). The church was part of the urban fabric, with small squares around it. Unfortunately Budapest lost its center when the new Elizabeth bridge was built during the 1890s. City Hall and dozens of other buildings were demolished, and new avenues were opened. The church just narrowly escaped demolition - there were plans to tear it down or to move it, but in the end the new roadway leading to the bridge curved right along the church.